THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)

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Christopher

I’ve seen this movie so many times now but it’s never become dull or uninteresting. The story in this film seems very textbook but I think that’s part of what makes it so great. We become acquainted with the main villain in the first scene of the film. We get to meet our main character in an exciting carriage ride which has us rooting for him from the very beginning. We meet our team and what makes them above average. And finally we get to see the battle unfold and who does and doesn’t make it to the end.
My favorite of the seven is hands down James Coburn’s character, Britt. To me he has the greatest setup of the seven.  He comes off cool when people he works with argue that he can’t do what he says he can: draw quicker with a knife than a pen. Once this is put to the test a man is dead and we know exactly who’s the perfect fit for the team!
I saw this many years before I saw Seven Samurai but finding that connection in high school was my first real exposure to Kurosawa. If that hadn’t happened I don’t know what I would of done if I didn’t have Ikiru to watch a hundred times.
I doubt I would enjoy the remake anywhere close to this but I hope we watch it at some point.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

There wasn’t one main thing about westerns that made me dismiss them when I was younger. In fact, I remember watching Stagecoach sometime in elementary school and liking it. But I hated John Wayne. When I first knew he existed I didn’t know why he was famous; when I found out he was an actor I felt like I got the joke – ohhhh right, that guy’s a HORRIBLE actor, ha ha! The fact that John Wayne seemed to be the epitome of a western actor did not bode well to me. Then I saw The Searchers in a summer camp film class the summer after 9th grade and my fears were confirmed: westerns are long, westerns are boring, women are property in westerns, and John Wayne sucks. That was the last time I wasted time on a western for a while.

In my defense, it would have helped to see cool westerns with cool guys like For A Few Dollars More or The Magnificent Seven. And in fact, The Magnificent Seven combines a lot of movie tropes that I’ve always loved: a good guy posse, male friendships, meeting each member of the posse individually, an unexpectedly bad bad guy, and sexy cowboys.

I admit I sort of laughed when I found out Eli Wallach was the bad guy. Eli Wallach? Of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly AND Keeping the Faith? Right, okay. He even acts jolly! Until he murders a man in front of his whole town for no reason. With that he enters different bad guy territory: an unexpectedly bad bad guy, the scariest kind. Wallach and his posse are terrorizing a Mexican village, pillaging it whenever they need supplies. The men of the town decide to hire guns to defend themselves. Then they meet Chris (Yul Brynner), a very casually sexy cowboy who tells them their money will go further if they hire gunmen instead of buy guns. Chris looks around at the villagers, sees their level of attractiveness, and realizes he must be the one to recruit the gunmen.

It doesn’t happen exactly like that but because of one of my favorite parts of the movie, he may as well have. Along with the main 7 and the bad guys, there are villages and posses full of extras throughout the movie. In any of these larger scenes with lots of characters, any of the 7 stick out like a sore thumb. Why? Because they are gorgeous and no one else is. It’s not even a case of the extras being made to look dirty or grimy; it’s straight up attractiveness. The 7 all look like movie stars, and even though there are ranks of attractiveness within the 7, all of the extras just look like normal people. The contrast was so stark I made up a subplot that included sexy radar that all of the 7 must have had in order to find each other.

Chris, who looks like this:

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picks up Vin, played by Steve McQueen, who looks like this:

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Together they gather Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), who looks like this:

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Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), who, no joke, looks like THIS:

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Britt (James Coburn), who looks like this (cute butt added for good measure):

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And Lee (Robert Vaughn), who looks like this:

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The six men start to get followed around by Chico, a local villager played by the hilariously German-named Horst Buchholz, and they have no choice but to take him along because he looks like this:

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Anyway, each of the 7 has a niche skill that they bring to the good guy posse. I expected there to be one big, final showdown between the 7 and Wallach and his posse, which the 7 would win, which made me think I sort of knew how the whole thing was going to end. There is a big showdown, which the 7 win, but it doesn’t end there. Chico infiltrates the bad posse and finds out that they’re coming back, and soon, because they’re out of food. The 7 ride out to meet the posse and deal with them there, but find the camp abandoned. When they come back to the village they find it overtaken by the bad posse. Knowing they’ve won, the bad posse lets the 7 go, figuring the 7 have just found out that this village isn’t worth dying for. After the bad posse leads the 7 out of the village and gives them back their guns, Britt is immediately ready to go back, pissed off that they were bested. Everyone but Harry agrees to go back and fight; Harry rides off on his own just to come back to the village in the nick of time to save Chris from being shot. In the end, Chris shoots Wallach and all but he, Vin, and Chico of the 7 are killed trying to save the village. The 7 technically win, but as Chris says in the last lines, “We lost. We’ll always lose.”

So, The Magnificent Seven was not only not boring but it was actually cool and full of eye candy in tight jeans. I’m annoyed with myself for not watching this sooner, but I also just blame John Wayne. If this dude was instead the ultimate face in cowboy badassery:

31257629_1300x1733 instead of the lumbering, eternally-an-old-man-who-can’t-act John Wayne, I probably would have wanted to watch this a lot sooner.

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THE LAST WALTZ (1978)

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Elizabeth

Good music documentaries are really good, and to me, really, really good if the music is from a long time ago – preferably 30+ years ago. And I don’t say that because I love older music above all else, but I do love seeing really clear footage of musicians in their prime, especially if I’ve only ever known those musicians as much older. So if you have that and then throw a director like Martin Scorsese into the mix . . . I mean, you’re all set.

I’ve honestly never really listened to The Band. In fact, I think I may have heard of them longer ago than I thought and was just confused by their name. After watching this I realized I actually know more of their songs than I thought. But either way, the majority of my listening to The Band has come from being around Chris when he listens to them. But like any good documentary, my lack of knowledge about The Band really didn’t matter.

The Last Waltz is mostly a recording of their final concert as The Band, mixed in with small interviews in between. When the band first came on stage, the first thing that struck me was how weirdly modern they look. Except it’s more like modern bands look like them. What I’m saying is that it was really funny and interesting to see this band in the 1970s look like a band from 2015 just because 70s style has come back in a big way. The only thing that really dated them was their heavy cigarette smoking.

But really, the best part was seeing all of the musicians in this documentary so young. Besides The Band, there’s Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Ringo Starr . . . among others. It was crazy! It’s like everyone looked the same . . . but so different? Like I was watching all of these people’s children instead of them themselves. I also learned that I actually had no clue what Van Morrison looked like, which I hadn’t really realized. And that he was a giant dork:

Van Morrison . . . cool guy?
Van Morrison . . . cool guy?

I think my favorite part of the whole documentary was a conversation with Robbie Robertson, talking about all the people there. He talks about how influential everyone is on each other  and everyone else and will continue to be. Which is really just amazing because I don’t think even he realized just how right he was. I mean look at that lineup! Bob Dylan! A Beatle! Neil Diamond AND Young! I mean every name up there has an incredible following and were (and still are) insanely influential and important to music. What an amazing time, place, and thing to be a part of.

Christopher

Music never really became a big thing in my life until high school. Before that I can only really think of a few things I liked and most of that seemed to be a product of my surroundings. In high school I first learned about Bob Marley and got pretty into him. Then I was introduced to Bob Dylan. That really changed my life. What was funny about that was before I really knew who Bob Dylan was I knew of him through parodies on TV shows. Probably mostly The Simpsons, but what always happened was that I kind of liked what it sounded like? So when I actually heard the real Bob Dylan for the first time, I was completely in love. He’s something that has been a constant in my life ever since and I keep finding more of his stuff to get into to this day. So with this background, Bob Dylan is what brought me to The Last Waltz.

High school was also the time I became interested in movies so getting my hands on any kind of Bob Dylan anything was always at the top of my list. The Last Waltz was one of the top docs I had heard about and even though I knew of The Band I was really new at understanding their role in history, especially in terms of Bob Dylan. This movie really took me from the beginning and I watched it on a regular basis for a while. The number of performers is ridiculous. And because of this I learned a lot of new people. This movie was the first time I had heard of Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, and Ronnie Hawkins. This became the one concert I would choose if I had a time machine. (Now I think it would just be a 1966 Bob Dylan concert.)

I feel lost in this post now because I have way too much to say about it but I love this film and it’s worth watching. I’m actually going to be driving to their studio/house Big Pink at the end of June. I’ll be flying into Albany and renting a car. I am so excited I can’t really think about it. I want to bring some water colors to try to do something while I’m there but I’m still thinking about what I want to do exactly.

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (1961)

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Christopher

High school has so far been my golden era for watching Criterion movies. One of the directors they cherish the most is Ingmar Bergman. And even though I don’t have a specific memory of watching Through A Glass Darkly I definitely remember this being a movie I watched multiple times. I’ve seen a good number of Bergman films but Through A Glass Darkly might be his movie that stayed with me the most. Watching it again with Elizabeth was like watching a movie I just saw a week or so ago. Every scene was still so vivid in my mind. I say all this because Through A Glass Darkly is a movie that I feel almost everyone should watch.

When people talk about religious movies I kind of think of shit like Heaven Is For Real or an upcoming post, Courageous, but to me it’s Through A Glass Darkly. This movie has exactly what I want in a religious movie; tons of fear and ambiguity. This movie is the first of a trilogy and even though this movie is really more about mental illness than religion, it does have some great scenes involving some type of higher power. Whenever people talk about God I have an image in my head because of this film . . . even though it might not be a good one.

I highly recommend this movie and even if you think you might not enjoy it it definitely is a film that holds your attention throughout. It kind of just gets crazier and crazier as the plot unfolds. CHECK IT OUT!!!!!!

Elizabeth

Wow. For a movie with only four characters that takes place in about 24 hours or less, Through A Glass Darkly has a whole lot going on. And it is beyond amazing.

The plot is so simple that there isn’t even really a plot at all, but just a study of these characters as they interact. Everything takes place on a fairly remote island where a family is vacationing: Karin (Harriet Andersson) and her husband Martin (Max von Sydow), along with Karin’s father, David (Gunnar Björnstrand) and teenage brother, Minus (Lars Passgård). We find out that it’s more awkward than your average vacation with the in-laws as Karin has somewhat recently been released from a hospital, where she’s being treated for what sounds like schizophrenia.

The whole movie rides on dialog and how these characters interact with one another. Despite Karin’s diagnosis, she’s far from being the only weirdo. Like so many movies we’ve watched recently (and like The Leftovers, which we also just finished), David sort of hates his kids. He’s a popular writer, but he doesn’t get great reviews. Minus and Karin’s mother died some time before, and we find out that she also had schizophrenia (and it sounds like maybe she died from it, or some kind of complications from it since I’m not sure how what would work). David clearly has little to no interaction with Minus, given that Minus is kind of crazy, especially about how he feels towards women; he’s obviously heterosexual, but is also disgusted by women. Karin learns, by reading David’s diary, that not only is her illness incurable, but David wants to use her illness for his writing. Even though that wasn’t meant for Karin to see, it’s still pretty devastating and shitty parenting. Martin is probably the most stable one of the bunch, but his intense love for Karin, whose illness sort of prevents her from expressing much love back, is almost debilitating, even though it is noble.

We first meet the family in the evening before dinner after they’ve gone for a swim. At dinner, David tells the family that he will soon be leaving on a trip again to try to help his apparent writer’s block, even though he promised Karin and Minus that he would be staying home for a long time. David gives everyone gifts from his trip as he goes back to his bedroom. They open the gifts and are immediately disappointed that they seem rather thoughtless and last minute, but while they complain, David secretly sobs in his bedroom. When he returns, they all thank him for the gifts as if nothing is wrong. Karin, Minus, and Martin put on a play for David that Minus wrote, which is about an artist who is asked to give up his life for his art but decides his life is too important, which David takes as an attack on himself.

Later that night, while everyone else is asleep, Karin goes into an empty room. It seems like she’s following something there, although she’s alone. She has convulsions, which at times seem orgasmic, and then passes out. Later, she goes to David’s room and says she can’t sleep. He’s up working, so he tucks her into his bed while he continues to work, which is probably the most parental action David takes during the whole movie. Even though we know David is not a good parent, that scene was very comforting to me, especially because Karin seems to fall asleep immediately. It just reminds me of those feelings of being a little kid and nothing being more comfortable than your parents’ bed. When Karin wakes up, David is gone and that’s when she reads his diary. She tells Martin about it, who denies that her disease is incurable. When Martin reassures her, it’s hard to tell if he’s straight-up lying (Martin says in the beginning that there is a small amount of hope for Karin but she’s likely incurable), not quite lying since there is some hope, or if he just truly believes that it is not totally incurable himself. I have to go with the last one on that; Martin has a clear, unconditional love for Karin, to the point where I think Karin going crazy would be worse for Martin than Karin herself.

Martin and David go fishing and Martin confronts David about what Karin found in his diary and basically calls him out on all kinds of shit that he’s clearly holding onto. I was honestly scared the scene was going to turn into The Talented Mr. Ripley but instead it ends up being a pretty calm conversation between Martin and David. David tells a story of how he tried to kill himself and almost succeeded, but then realized he did love his family. It’s really too little too late, and Martin knows it, but seems to appreciate that David is at least trying. I feel like that story is why David went to cry while everyone opened presents; maybe he understood they were thoughtless gifts and didn’t know how to convey his true feelings to his family.

Things get weirder and weirder between Karin and Minus while Martin and David are gone. She finds Minus looking through a nude magazine and asks him to show her his “favorite.” I don’t have an opposite-sex sibling, but it still seems like it should be weird for a brother and sister to look at porn together. She then tries to describe to Minus what happened to her in the empty room; that basically she entered a room full of people that were waiting for someone to come, someone she thinks is God. Despite all the immaturity we’ve seen from Minus at this point, he seems to clearly recognize that Karin is going through something profound and seems to treat her very delicately. He doesn’t not believe her; he knows that she believes she truly saw all of that. But he lets her know that, at least for him, what she’s saying isn’t real. He’s obviously trying to connect with her while also keeping her at somewhat of a distance.

Later, while David and Martin are still gone, Karin sees a storm coming and hides in an abandonded, falling apart boat. When Minus finds her there, he goes to her and they hold each other. When David and Martin come back, Minus leads them to the boat and Karin asks for everyone to leave except David. She tells him she read his diary but also that she did something worse, something much worse, something to Minus. She never says what happened and no one ever asks. Later though, Minus tells David that reality burst open for him when he was in the boat with Karin and that now anything can happen. So I mean, I think we can safely assume some kind of sex stuff happened in the boat. Probably not straight up sex, but something. I also think it’s pretty safe to assume that this isn’t the first time Karin has done something to Minus, because that would explain a lot of his out-of-the-blue disgust with women and his own sexuality. It’s crazy.

Once she’s out of the boat, Karin decides she needs to be hospitalized again. They call an ambulance but before they can leave Karin once again goes into the empty room, clearly seeing something we can’t see. Martin follows her there and she tells him that she’s waiting for God to come through the door, that he’s almost there. Martin doesn’t knock her out of her trance, instead he just coexists with it. Karin says multiple times that she can’t live in two worlds at once, and this is clearly what’s happening here. Karin starts screaming and convulsing again, and Martin gives her a shot of some kind to calm her down. As she does, she tells everyone what she saw: God came through the room, he was a spider, and he tried to penetrate her. Fucking. Creepy.

Martin and Karin leave in the ambulance together, and Minus tells David about the boat while they watch them go. They have a short, deep conversation about the meaning of God and life and how important love is. When David walks away, Minus says what is maybe one of the saddest last lines of any movie, “Father spoke to me.”

As I’m not schizophrenic and have never been close to anyone that is, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert or have first-hand knowledge. But I feel like so often, especially in old movies and especially with women, a character is just “crazy.” It feels vague. And while Bergman never says schizophrenia, he and Andersson show us such realistic experiences that it’s anything but vague. Karin’s constant struggle to be in two worlds at once feels so true. And she has one of the best lines I’ve ever heard about mental illness: “It’s so horrible to see your own confusion and understand it.” While I’m not schizophrenic, I’ve dealt with serious depression of my own and that’s exactly what it felt like; it was so horrible to know that logically I shouldn’t feel that way but have no control over it anyway. Bergman seems to have such a clear and empathic understanding of Karin’s illness that it never seems cheap or exploitive; it mostly seems sad.

Through A Glass Darkly is fairly minimalist, but it packs so much into 90-something minutes that it’s never boring for a second and also goes by really quickly. It also reminded me of just how gorgeous Bergman movies can be and lucky we are to be able to have something like The Criterion Collection present it in such a beautiful way. No one shoots black and white like Bergman.

If you haven’t seen this, see it. End of story.

M (1931)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

M is one of those movies that I can’t believe was even made, but not in the usual, Tyler Perry kind of way. I mean it in the way that this is a movie made around 1930 in Germany about a child molester/murderer. And it is CRAZY.

Something that bothers me in certain old movies is what’s left unspoken; usually it seems to be a direct result of censorship, but either way it sort of drives me crazy to watch a movie where we’re supposed to assume stuff that happens off-screen. M both follows this and bucks this; no, it doesn’t show Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) molesting or killing children, but it also flat-out says that’s what he’s doing, just in case there’s any doubt. Basically, I just love that Lang was able to let us know what’s going on but still keep the feel of a movie from that era.

The plot is really simple: Beckert has been abducting and murdering children around Berlin. The most we see of any crime is Beckert approaching a little girl, in shadow, buying that little girl a balloon and candy, and then later we see the ball she was playing with roll out from under a bush and the same balloon float up and hit a power line. The bulk of the movie is how the city reacts to these crimes and how everyone is on the hunt for him, even though no one knows what to look for. The police use fascinating (to me) techniques with fingerprints and handwriting analysis (Beckert sends the press a letter, not as himself, admitting to the crimes and promising he will commit them again) but they don’t get anywhere. Meanwhile, the Berlin mob and the rest of the criminal community is getting sick of the nightly raids the cops are holding trying to find the killer and being accused themselves of being the killer. The mob’s irritation with the killer is so interesting; they obviously think he’s evil and shouldn’t kill children. But what really drives them is that they don’t want to be lumped into the same category just because they’re also criminals, and the fact that they can’t really do criminal stuff with all the cop activity. It might not be 100% moral, but the mob is convinced that they’ll do a better job of catching the killer than the cops, and they’re right.

There’s a lot of really interesting stuff going on all the time, I think the most important being the incredible acting of Peter Lorre. Eventually, the criminals end up catching Beckert and give him a mock trial. Beckert pleads with his captors, explaining that he has to kill, that the only time he’s not in total torment is when he’s killing, and I have to say Lorre is pretty fucking convincing. He looks like he’s in pain, the way he holds himself and looks terrified of the criminals that have caught him and looks around at them so desperately. But then you remember that, wait, Beckert raped and murdered children and went out of his way to both taunt and elude the police. I love that M is all about Beckert being a killer but Lorre is somehow able to make you forget about that, even if for just a few seconds, and empathize with him a little. It’s crazy.

Lang is also really good at building tension in M. To help capture the killer, the mob recruits the homeless of Berlin to act as watchdogs over the city’s children, following any lone child until they see that the child is safe. Eventually this works, when the blind balloon salesman who sold Beckert his victim’s balloon in the beginning recognizes Beckert’s whistling of “In The Hall of the Mountain King,” which he whistled when he first bought the balloon. The salesman alerts another beggar, who follows Beckert, as he has another child, a soon-to-be-victim in tow. It’s nerve-racking watching Beckert get followed; as he moves through the crowded city it seems sure that he’ll get lost. But then the beggar writes a giant M on his hand in chalk and pretends to run into Beckert, slamming his hand on Beckert’s coat in the process and marking the back of his shoulder with an M. It’s just kind of brilliant, and once Beckert’s victim alerts him to the mark it just gets that much more tense and crazy.

M is a movie that I’m embarrassed it took me so long to see. I was honestly kind of scared to watch it; despite the time period, I thought Metropolis was super scary when I saw it in middle school and that movie is not about a child killer. But it’s really incredible and the scariest parts are feeling empathy for the killer. The restoration of M is also such a good example of why the Criterion Collection is so amazing and important.

M is amazing.

Christopher

When I think of my history with film the Criterion Collection is a big part of that. From that I remember the first CC I saw was 8 1/2. A kid at my high school had recommended it and even though I wasn’t a huge fan it certainly opened my eyes to what film could be. After I watched 8 1/2 I was at Best Buy with my mom and I remember noticing other CC movies around the store. The first one I picked up was La Dolce Vita. I grabbed it wanting to buy it before I even knew what it was about. The second film, my mom noticed, was M. The cover immediately sold me as well. I went home and watched La Dolce Vita with my mom. We both loved it and it sparked some interesting conversation about what we had actually watched. However, when I saw M for the first time, I think my love for movies really took off. I don’t think I had ever watched anything that was so captivating about such a scary subject. Everything jumped out at me. The writing, the cinematography, even the acting.

M is about a German town coming to a halt to find a child murderer. It’s crazy to think about how this movie was even made. And I think it’s interesting that it’s Fritz Lang’s first movie with sound. You can definitely tell. There are quite a few moments when there is no sound at all. I remember watching this with my dad at about 1 in the morning once and trying my best to stay awake because of the constant silence.

I love this movie and I think if you love film at all it’s worth watching. I can’t really think of anything I don’t like about it.

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1961)

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Christopher

I saw this movie once in high school and it really stayed with me because I have always placed it in one of the best western movies I have seen. I had been trying to get Elizabeth to watch this for some time, because it’s on Netflix, but she never seemed interested but once we saw that the Drafthouse was playing it we had to go. (A quick note on seeing this at The Ritz: The ticket was listed for $10 each. I bought two with two Groupons I had, so I got a $20 value for $10. BUT this screening also came with a flight of whiskey and the tickets were supposed to be listed for $25. But since the Drafthouse messed up on the price we got a $50 value for $10 and a shit ton of whiskey!)

I love this film because of all the characters and how they interact with each other. You have John Wayne, who’s a local cowboy/hero of sorts, you have Jimmy Stewart who is a lawyer and not one to carry a gun, and you have Lee Marvin, who is a murderer. This movie is great and if you have never seen it please check it out!

Elizabeth

Okay, I really need to talk about something for a second before I really get into The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which I loved. This might not seem that important, but it is.

So. Lee Van Cleef. Now, he was not someone that really showed up on my radar pre-Chris, because I hadn’t really seen him in much before. But now I have seen him. And after The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, I can now conclude (with full support from Chris), that Lee Van Cleef WAS TOTALLY FUCKING SEXY. Now, this slipped past me a little bit, because if I’m totally honest, Lee Van Cleef also sort of looks like a rat. So how do I find this slightly rat-like, often-a-bad-guy sexy? I don’t know. I do not know. He is just so masculine. Oh my god. It really hit me in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance because in the first scene in which Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and his gang (which includes Lee Van Cleef) are seen without masks, it’s in a crowded restaurant and everyone stands up. And even though Lee Van Cleef barely had any lines and wasn’t a main character, my eyes went straight to him. He just totally commands the room without doing a goddamn thing. That’s a fairly rare quality, I think.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way I can talk about how I think The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is awesome, and particularly awesome for a Western. I’ve usually stayed away from Westerns because they can get pretty redundant and are usually about two-dimensional male characters, which just gets old. But even though this movie is directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne, it somehow is not the stereotypical Western. And because of that, this was by far the best thing I’ve seen John Wayne in. Even though he saunters around and seriously says “Pilgrim” like a hundred times, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and acts as a perfect foil to Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), who is at times comically serious.

I think it’s really the triangle between Tom Doniphon (Wayne), Stoddard, and Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) that makes this movie so strong. Like I said, Tom Doniphon is this old Western-y character, but is also sort of goofy and pretty respectful of everyone around him (unless you’re a murderer). Stoddard is a lawyer who believes in the law so firmly that he clearly doesn’t understand just how lawless the west is. And then there’s Valance, who is SCARY. So many times I find Western villains not to be scary, because we mostly hear about how bad they are, like in High Noon. But the first time we see Valance and his gang, he nearly beats Stoddard to death . . . WITH A WHIP. Uhhhh so that’s scary. We see a newspaper article on how Valance and his gang beat to death a father and son, while the wife/mother “watched helplessly” (aka was raped, I’m sure). They shoot down innocent people, on camera, for no reason. They beat (almost to death) multiple characters, for no reason. It reallyyyy drove home this idea that law doesn’t matter there, and helps support the subplot of Stoddard’s blossoming political career, which eventually brings law and order to the town.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is great. Watch it if you don’t like Westerns (like me). Watch it if you don’t like John Wayne (like me). IT’S SO WORTH IT.

WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

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Elizabeth

I hadn’t seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in a really long time, and I didn’t have much of a desire to watch it again for a long time. I just thought of the movie as being very stressful. But it’s one of Chris’ favorites, and he insisted that it’s much funnier when you watch it as an adult. And it’s so true!

I guess it’s weird to compare Willy Wonka to A Clockwork Orange, but that was another movie that’s really funny that took a few viewings for any of the humor to come out for me (albeit for much, much, much different reasons). Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is so funny because Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) is so funny. Wonka is a weird character, because it’s like he loves and hates children. This was a feeling I personally very much identified with. And this movie really does a good job of creating its own world, so it doesn’t feel weird that this candy shop owner is singing to a bunch of kids, or the whole world is going ape shit over this contest, or that Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) can suddenly walk and dance after being bedridden for years. You just kind of go with it. It’s sort of refreshing.

But yeah, it’s still stressful, and I definitely understand my kid-self feeling overwhelmed by it. The scene that comes to mind the most is near the end, when Charlie (Peter Ostrum) and Grandpa confront Wonka about what happens at the end of their tour and Wonka freaks out at them for drinking the Fizzy Lifting Drink. As a kid, being yelled at was one of my greatest fears (and probably the greatest fears in the category of Things That Can and Probably Will Happen At Some Point), and being yelled at by someone I care about, like my mom or a teacher I liked, was THE WORST. Flash forward to 26 year old me now, aaaaand it’s pretty much the same thing. I’m not really at risk of being yelled at by my mom anymore, thanks to adulthood, but the thought of someone I care about yelling at me still really freaks me out. So, from a film point of few, I like how powerful that scene is. It hurts when Wonka yells at Charlie. But, personally, it’s still one of my least favorite movie scenes to watch.

If you haven’t revisited Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in a while, I highly recommend it.

Christopher

I’ve said before that I believe The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is my favorite movie but this is a very close second. I have so many childhood memories of watching this film. I remember multiple Halloweens as a kid where I dressed up as Charlie Bucket, I remember watching this movie everyday for a week in high school, just because I wanted to remember more lines, and I remember buying this soundtrack at Borders Books just because I wanted to listen to the music while I drove around Vienna, VA. This movie is great!

What I love the most about this film is how I actually like it more and more as I get older. I think this movie is so funny with its dark humor. I love how it makes kids look awful and reminds me that I never want my own. I also love, and this might be a negative Elizabeth talks about, when he yells at Charlie and Grandpa Joe at the end of the film. Whenever Gene Wilder yells, it’s beautiful. Like in the boat scene, when he is singing the poem, his voice keeps getting higher and higher until he’s basically just screaming.

Now, the worst part of this movie is probably the scene where the mom sings to Charlie, but I also love singing that song to people when they complain because I think it’s funny. I know people in general don’t like the movie before he goes into the factory but I think some of my favorite moments are in this section. Once, when I was a kid, I tried watching this with a bunch of people and they wanted to skip to the factory; I don’t remember if we did or not but I remember being pissed off that everyone didn’t understand this movie like I did haha. But speaking of great moments before they go into the factory; Charlie Bucket’s teacher is one of the funniest characters in the film, I love the weird poem the knife guys recites to Charlie, and I always thought that the cabbage soup they eat at Charlie’s house looked good, I never really understood why they didn’t want that as a kid.

Inside the factory I always wanted a snozberry, I always wanted that buttercup drink that Wonka drinks then eats, and I always wanted to know what Hair Cream was exactly. This movie has so much in it; basically every line is funny and when it’s not I just find it very interesting. I love this movie and even though I can’t imagine how many times I have seen it, I hope I quadruple that by the time I die.

CUTIE AND THE BOXER (2013)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:

  • Best Documentary Feature

Christopher

College was definitely the place that I came to a realization that I cannot live my life without art being in it. The idea of going a week or even a day without creating some form of art sounds absolutely miserable to me. But I mention this because college was the first time I became super into art documentaries. I spent too many nights just watching them on Netflix and creating collages, paintings, comics, etc. It was so much fun. I got a bit away from that after school but the past few months I’ve been pretty into creating again, and watching stuff like Cutie and The Boxer is something that inspires me beyond words. It’s the kind of movie that gets me too excited to even sleep. This movie is a so good and it’s on Netflix. Please see it! And I really hope it wins Best Documentary.

Elizabeth

I think Cutie and the Boxer is really what good documentaries are about. For me, personally, it took a subject I had no knowledge of (the art of the Shinoharas), taught me about it, and made me care about it. It was really great.

Cutie and the Boxer is really about an old couple of Japanese artists, who’ve had a pretty tumultuous, but long, relationship. Ushio Shinohara is a sculptor and painter, using boxing (by putting paint on boxing gloves) as a method of painting. Noriko Shinohara is a painter and illustrator, creating in the documentary what is essentially a semi-autobiographical comic about her life with Ushio. The movie culminates with them having a joint gallery opening, both showcasing their very different, but equally beautiful, work.

Cutie and the Boxer works because the subjects are so interesting and the filmmaker is totally removed from the final product, which I like. It’s really great. I also thought it was interesting that I think I was more drawn to Ushio’s work, while Chris was more drawn to Noriko’s. I hope this documentary makes their art more prominent, because it’s great.